22 August 2017

USA: Search efforts continue for USS John S. McCain Sailors

From U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) sits along the pier at Changi Naval Base, Aug. 21. (U.S. Navy/Grady T. Fontana) >>

SINGAPORE - Aircraft from the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) will continue search efforts today for 10 missing Sailors assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56).

Ships and aircraft from the Royal Malaysian Navy and Republic of Singapore Navy joined search efforts yesterday and continue to provide assistance.

Search efforts are focused on an area east of the Strait of Malacca and Singapore where McCain was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC early in the morning on Aug. 21 (as reported 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time) while transiting to Singapore for a routine port visit.

During the collision, John S. McCain sustained significant hull damage that resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms. Damage control efforts by the crew halted further flooding at sea.

USA: America pulls into Changi Naval Base to support USS John S. McCain

From U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

USS America (LHA 6) file photo. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Justin A. Schoenberger) >>

SINGAPORE - Amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) arrived Aug. 21 at Changi Naval Base and is moored across the pier from the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56).

While in Singapore, America will provide messing and berthing services to McCain crew members and to support damage control efforts on board. America will also support ongoing searches for 10 missing Sailors. Ship Repair Facility divers are on scene as well to assess the damage to the hull.

McCain was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Strait of Malacca and Singapore early in the morning on Aug. 21 (as reported 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time) and arrived at Changi Naval Base in the afternoon.

Significant damage to the hull resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery and communications rooms. Damage control efforts by the crew halted further flooding.

India: Commissioning of Second Ship of Landing Craft Utility MK-IV ‘IN LCU L52’(GRSE Yard 2093) at Port Blair

Launch of LCU L53 after construction (Image: Wiki Commons)
Dr. Jagdish Mukhi, Lieutenant Governor, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, commissioned IN LCU L52 into the Indian Navy today at Port Blair. IN LCU L52 is the second Landing Craft Utility (LCU) Mk-IV class to be inducted into the Indian Navy. The ship has been indigenously designed and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Kolkata. The commissioning of L-52 is yet another manifestation of the potential of the country’s indigenous design and ship building capability.

LCU MK-IV ship is an amphibious ship with the primary role to transport and deploy Main Battle Tanks, Armoured Vehicles, troops and equipment from ship to shore. These ships would be based in the Andaman and Nicobar Command and can be deployed for multirole activities like beaching operations, search and rescue, disaster relief operations, supply and replenishment and evacuation from distant islands.

The ship, commanded by Commander Kaushik Chatterjee, has a complement of 05 officers, 46 sailors and is capable of carrying 160 troops in addition. The ship, displacing 830 Tons, is capable of transporting various kinds of combat equipment such as Main Battle Tanks Arjun, T72 and other vehicles. The ship is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment and advanced systems like Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS).

The remaining six ships of the same class are in advanced stages of construction at M/S GRSE, Kolkata and are scheduled to be inducted in the next two years. The induction of these ships will contribute to the nation’s maritime security needs and is in consonance with the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s drive for ‘Make in India’.

News Report: The Doklam Gambit: How China Lured India into a ‘Diplomatic Trap’

An analyst have suggested that the Chinese and Indian stand-off over the disputed Doklam Plateau may be a Chinese gambit to drive a wedge between India and its smaller ally Bhutan, who has a competing claim on Doklam with Beijing.

According to them, China's sudden move into Doklam to build a road in disputed territory with Bhutan was a clear provocation, but one that was not done needlessly. The border dispute may be between China and Bhutan, but it isn't Bhutanese troops facing off with the People's Liberation Army — it's Indian troops instead. Bhutan's tiny military, which has no Air Force and relies on the Indian Army for training, could not hope to stand up against the might of Beijing. Thus, New Delhi came to their ally's defense.

There's only one problem with India's narrative: their troops are outside of Indian soil. India has no claim to Doklam, which means they have either occupied Bhutan or invaded China, depending on how the dispute shakes out. Neither reflects well on New Delhi.

This has led to the theory that China purposefully provoked India in Doklam to drive a wedge between them and Bhutan. The Land of the Thunder Dragon was never part of the British Raj, but it was once an Indian protectorate and maintains close ties to them. In recent years it has become more eager to increase its independence and be seen as a fully-fledged nation.

News Report: North Korea Warns Australia That Aiding US Would Be ‘Suicidal Act’

North Korea has warned Australia against committing a “suicidal act” by supporting the US and South Korea should those countries attack Pyongyang.

This threat follows comments made by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull condemning the North’s weapons development, saying in a statement to ABC, "North Korea has shown it has no regard for the welfare of its own population, no regard for the security and good relations with its neighbours and no regard for international law."

He added, "We call on all countries to redouble their efforts, including through implementation of agreed UN Security Council resolutions, to bring North Korea to its senses and end its reckless and dangerous threats to the peace of our region and the world."

Last week Turnbull told a Melbourne radio station that "if there is an attack" on the US, Canberra would send troops by invoking the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security (ANZUS) Treaty. 

The Prime Minister said, "In terms of defence, we are joined at the hip," according to News AU.

News Report: S Korean President Warns of Dangerous Fallout From Any US-N Korea Conflict

South Korean President Moon Jae-in
South Korean President Moon Jae-in believes that even a minor conflict between Washington and Pyongyang may threaten the lives of South Koreans and foreigners, including the US forces stationed on the Korean peninsula, a presidential spokesman said on Monday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The South Korean president also stressed the importance of China's role in bringing North Korea back to negotiations.

"President Moon said he understands why the United States has traditionally said all options were on the table to push North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions. But he said even the slightest military action will lead to a clash between the South and North, and it will threaten many lives of not only South Koreans but foreigners, including U.S. forces stationed in South Korea," Park Soo-hyun said at a press briefing, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.

The remarks were made during Moon’s meeting with a bipartisan group of US lawmakers. The South Korean president also agreed on the need to exert additional pressure on Pyongyang but pointed out that the conflict must be resolved by peaceful means.

News Report: India Expects China to Break Deadlock on Doklam

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to discuss the crisis with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit to be held in September in Xiamen, China.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Weeks before BRICS summit in Xiamen, India has termed Doklam stand-off as a ‘deadlock' but at the same time has expressed confidence that it would be resolved soon.

"There will be a solution very soon and I am sure China will make a positive move," Rajnath Singh, India's Minister of Home Affairs said on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao has reported that Western Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has held a military drill to "strike awe in India". 

News Report: India Expedites Construction of Border Roads Amid Military Conflict With China

Indian Army had asked the defense ministry to expedite construction of roads along the border with China citing it as a crucial requirement for faster movement of troops and uninterrupted supplies of ammunition and other necessities.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — In an unprecedented move, the Indian government has decided to delegate more financial powers to the Border Road Organization (BRO) in order to expedite the construction of roads near the border with China. The BRO is an executive force mandated with the task of constructing and maintaining roads in border areas in keeping with defense requirements.

The move comes shortly after the Indian Army voiced strong concern against the inordinate delay in completion of strategic road projects along China border.

"Across the border, China has built roads which will give them quick access to border posts in case of any eventuality. We have neglected the infrastructure development in the north-eastern states bordering China, but in view of the continuing standoff with China we need to speed up the construction of border roads," Major General G D Bakshi (Rtd.) told Sputnik.

News Report: India’s Main Battle Tanks T-90, T-72 to Become More Lethal

India hopes to add a new dimension to the nation’s defense capability by integrating the locally developed third generation missile system with Russia made T-90 and T-72 tanks which is the mainstay of Indian Army’s offensive formations.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — India plans to make the Russian origin tanks T-90 and T-72 more lethal by upgrading their missile systems. The Indian government has approved the purchase of third generation anti-tank missile systems which will make the T-90 & T-72 capable of hitting targets up to 8 kilometers during the day as well as night. Currently, the T-90 fleet of the Indian Army is armed with the INVAR missile system.

The Indian Army has proposed specific features of the missile system that are to be developed by the private defense manufacturers. The missile should be capable of being fired from 125 mm gun barrel and should have the ability to carry out pre-flight programmed maneuvers towards a beyond-line-of-sight engagement target.

News Report: Daesh-Linked Militants Kill 10 in Attack in Philippines' South – Reports

The Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf militant group affiliated with Daesh terrorist group attacked a village in the southern Philippines on Monday, killing 10 people and injuring over three dozen others, The Manila Times newspaper reported, citing government officials.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The attack was perpetrated by about 40 members of the Abu Sayyaf group in the island province of Basilan, the newspaper specified. The militants were also reported to have set fire to houses and a day care center before fleeing.

The newspaper noted that some victims with grave injuries had been sent to a hospital in the city of Zamboanga, located on the nearby island of Mindanao.

The deadly attack took place after the Philippines’ military freed Do Trung Huiqe, a Vietnamese sailor, who was taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf in the Basilan province. The man was kidnapped by the group in November 2016, along with five other crew members of cargo ship MV Royale 16. The media reported that it was unknown whether or not the rescue operation and the attack were linked.

The news comes amid the Philippine army's operation against terrorist groups linked with Daesh. Martial law was declared on the island in May by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte after a conflict broke out between Philippine security forces and Islamists affiliated with Daesh.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.